My Dog Bit My Daughter

Before anyone gets unnecessarily excited, it’s not a bad bite and everyone is fine.

She's fine

Friday night after dinner I finished cleaning up the kitchen and went to the bathroom (because you all know everything happens in the two minutes it takes to pee). Friday night is movie night here, so Samantha and Ella were impatiently waiting for me to start the movie by running around like monkeys.

I heard a high pitched yelp followed immediately by screaming.  I ran out of the bathroom to see Ella holding her face and crying hysterically.   I saw both her eyes were fine. For some reason, having a bite to an eye has always been my biggest fear.

“What happened?” I asked.

She blubbered something I couldn’t understand.  Samantha said she had tripped and fallen on the sleeping dog who bit her.

I picked Ella up, put the dog in the backyard, and  got Ella to move her hand.  There was  a puncture wound and a long gash down the side of her cheek. They were bleeding, and I couldn’t see how deep they were.  A little washing and it was clear it wasn’t too serious and she wouldn’t need any stitches.

I got the three girls ready and drove around trying to find the urgent care center. It’s about fifteen minutes away. It took me an hour to find it because I didn’t know exactly where it was and it’s not well marked. You  know, like with a sign or something . By the time we got there, my husband had also found it on his way home from work.  He took the other two home and I took Ella to the doctor.

They cleaned the wound up and prescribed some antibiotics and a hat and sunscreen to prevent scarring.

I’m chalking it up to an accidental bite.  When kids and dogs get together, there is always the risk of a bite occurring. In this case, Ella hurt the dog, who responded as dogs do, with an open mouth.  As a vet, I feel comfortable telling the difference between an oops and an aggressive bite.

They're still friends

Fact: Most bites in the US occur to children under the age of six by a family pet.

Not some random dog on the street. Not Pit Bull maulings. The family pet. Little kids often unintentionally hurt dogs and all dogs will bite given the right circumstances.

I’ll repeat that one in bold. All dogs will bite. It is a natural instinct and the primary means of protecting themselves.  Different dogs have different tolerance levels, but all dogs will bite.

Do you know which breed is considered the most aggressive to people? (I’ll answer that at the end of the post.)

If you have a dog and a child, there’s a decent chance you’ll be dealing with a bite at some point. So, what do you do when a dog bites your child?

1. Separate them.

Put the dog outside, in another room with the door closed, or in their crate if you have one. Deal with your child first.

2. Assess the wound

If it’s a severe bite or a mauling where there is a lot of blood loss,  call 9-1-1.  If you feel you can deal with it in a non-emergency situation, wash the wound.  If you have betadine solution, use that. If not, use soap. If you can, put the bite under running water while you wash with soap.  The running water will help flush the bacteria out of the wound.  Wash it before you head to your doctor or urgent care facility.  Washing it right away will help prevent infection.

3. See a Doctor

Ella’s wound was not deep enough that I would normally have gone to the doctor. But since it was the result of an animal bite, I knew she needed antibiotics.  The doctor should clean or flush the wound and prescribe antibiotics.  Generally, Augmentin is considered the best antibiotic for a bite wound. They will place stitches or dermabond if necessary.

Here’s the deal. I’m a vet. I’ve been bitten. I’ve never bothered going to the doctor for the antibiotics (although I always do a surgical scrub on the wound with betadine). But animal bites (cat’s are the worst) can develop a serious infection. Really serious. For myself, I’m willing to take the risk because I know I’ll keep the area clean and I trust I’ll be able to tell that it’s not feeling right or healing right. I don’t trust my almost three year old to recognize that nor am I willing to take the risk with her. So, if the skin is broken,  go to the doctor right away. Urgent care if it’s after hours.

4. Deal with the Dog

You’ll have to decide if you feel the bite was an oops or if your dog was being unnecessarily aggressive, and if it’s a pattern or a one-time, excusable incident.  Maybe you need to keep the dog separated from the kids. Maybe you need to do nothing and just move on. Maybe you need to talk to your vet or a veterinary behaviorist to have a real assessment done.

Which breed did you guess is the most aggressive to people? Pitt bull? Rottweiler? Chow Chow? Akita? Nope. It’s the English Cocker Spaniel. It’s been studied.

Has your child ever been bitten by a dog? How old were they?

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17 Responses to “My Dog Bit My Daughter”

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  1. Kristin @ Peace, Love and Muesli
    Twitter: kristinglas

    Wait, what? You’re a vet?
    We had a cocker spaniel growing up- she was nasty, cute though.
    In fairness to your puppy- if I was sleeping and a running little girl landed on me- I wouldn’t be happy either.
    Great advice!

    • Jessica Anne says:

      You didn’t know I’m a vet? Yep, I am. Cockers are not my favorite breed. I find them untrustworthy. And yes, Ella weighs 30 lbs and the dog 50 lbs, so it did hurt. Also, the dog was really stiff the next day, laying around, not running and not jumping, so I can’t blame her. She got hurt. And also I had been telling the girls to settle down before someone got hurt. They were being ridiculously crazy.

  2. Lorrie No
    Twitter: Moogirl

    Thank you for writing this post. I really appreciate hearing this from a professional Veterinarian. I’m going to send this to Jason too. We always feared Moo biting or snapping at Luci for any reason at all. Although she has never been aggressive to her so far. She only play wrestles with Jason once in a while and nips gentle at him. Luci is just about crawling and she loves playing with Moo. I don’t know what we will do if Moo ever bites Luci, we used to say we would “get rid of her”, but it doesn’t always seem like the right answer, especially if Moo got hurt too in the incident. I’m really glad you wrote about this because I wouldn’t know what to do if Luci got bit with the washing and rinsing of the wound. Thanks again and I’m glad Ella is okay.
    Lorrie No´s last post ..Sleep Training

    • Jessica Anne says:

      Glad you found it helpful! :) A lot of people jump to getting rid of the dog, and there are times when that’s appropriate, but sometimes it really was a defensive instinct or an accident like with Ella.

  3. Mama Track
    Twitter: MamaTrack

    Thanks for these tips. My toddler loves my dogs, who mostly tolerate him. But all dogs will bite and it’s good to be prepared.

    Until he gets bigger, we are operating under the “separation” plan–using a lot of baby gates to keep the dogs safe.

  4. Jayne
    Twitter: oneinpurpose

    Too many people think Cockers are only “Lady and the Tramp.” They’re not. Territorial and agressive. I have a Yorkie/Silky Terrier mix and he’s definitely not a kid dog, either. Sometimes he tries to bite me but only when he feels cornered with no way out.
    Jayne´s last post ..Mary was keeping within herself

    • Jessica Anne says:

      Exactly. Disney doesn’t do a good job picking family dog breeds for their movies. Dalmations aren’t great family dogs either. As a vet, I think little dogs are generally quicker to resort to nipping than big dogs.

  5. Lauren says:

    Aloha! My name is Lauren. i hope you’re doing well. I also hope Ella is feeling better! I found your blog through google. I’m an author and I LOVE the names Samantha and Ella! As for Cocker Spaniels being agressive, I grew up with a wonderful, sweet Brittney named Lady, no fooling. I’m visually impaired and Lady was awesome. She only ever bared her teeth once. And it was to actually protect me from someone who was trying to hurt me. She also showed traits of a seeing eye dog when we never trained her for it.
    I hope things calm down for you with your girls.
    Lauren´s last post ..My Jem and the Holograms Musings

  6. Jessica Anne says:

    Aloha! Thanks for stopping by, Lauren! Ella is feeling much better. Dogs are great companions. I have nothing against Cocker Spaniels, but they are scientifically the most likely breed to bite. Some of that has to do with how common they are and that they tend to be in homes with children. I don’t think Brittany Spaniels are included in that statistic. Most of the Brittanys I’ve met have been sweet dogs. :)
    Jessica Anne´s last post ..Smelly Diaper Pail Solutions

  7. Sarah says:

    Thank you. Our Golden but our 6 year old and I’m almost positive it was accidental. The kids were rough housing and the dog was chasing his tail nearby and went to bite his own tail an my son’s foot it in the way. I wouldn’t have taken him to the doctor had I not read this.

  8. Xena says:

    I so appreciate reading your post and I hope everyone is better now ((hugs)) My JRT has snapped at, but not bitten my 7 year old twice, and he did bite my 16 year old but that was because he was making his sister scream :) He is old enough to know better.
    Ben is a rescue and has a LOT of fear issues – after the snapping incident, he has been mad and saying get rid of the dog…we have had him for two years, and I KNOW he will have too much trouble finding another home – besides that, I love the dog….any advice on how to talk to my stubborn hubby about this so he can get it??? :) Thanks!!

  9. Jen says:

    Hi, Thank you for posting this! I have sort of the same situation. My dog who is 9 years old has snipped at my daughter 3 times now. The first two were when my daughter first started to walk and she pulled on his ears. The 3rd one was 1 1/2 years later and I don’t know if it was because we got another puppy? This time my dog scratched my daughters face. My dog has seperation anxiety and I don’t know if he could stand being rehomed. What should I do? Any help would be greatly appreaciated!

  10. Ana says:

    Hi Jessica,

    I got bit by my own dog today, also an accident like with your daughter, and I was left with a puncture wound from her canine tooth, it drew a bit of blood, and I also have a few scratches on my wrist. Since she squized my wrist and my tendon, my arm hurts a bit. I’m more worried about the fact that I might need to get a rabies and tetanus shot. She always has her shots in August so she’s due next month for her rabies shot and I’m due , also next month, for my tetanus shot. Do I need to get both? Or should I not be worried?

    I live in a country where rabies is considered to eradicated. I know it’s not

    Thank you in advance.

  11. Nini says:

    Hi, thank you for posting this, my 11 year old daughter was also bitten by our pomeranian mix 2 days ago.
    I see, that the post was made more than 3 years ago, i hope you wouln’t mind my asking how’s her cheek now. Like you I opted for non-stitch since we don’t think it was deep. But I’m still debating wether to do it or not. Had it been on other parts of her body, I wouldn’t really be that worried. But it’s on her face and I don’t want her to have scars.
    I would really appreciate if you’ll find time responding.

    Thank you,

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  1. […] it includes relatively minor bites requiring some antibiotics with or without stitches, like Ella’s bite.) Most of the bites occur by family pets to people in their own family.  A large percentage of […]